FAA responds to complaints that despite agreement, jet noise continues in historic districts

Eight months after an LOA agreement, some say that the noise from military aircraft using the runways at ILM is back.
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 4:18 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Residents were optimistic in January of 2022 that jet noise disruptions to Wilmington would be alleviated after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Wilmington International Airport (ILM), and 2D Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) reached an agreement known as the LOA. However, eight months later, some say that the noise from military aircraft using the runways at ILM is back.

Now, the FAA has responded to resident’s concerns explaining that while the agreement is in place, there will likely be exceptions to the agreement.

“The LOA identifies a designated noise sensitive area over Historic Downtown Wilmington that requires ILM ATC and the pilots to avoid, as much as practical, and unless ATC requires its’ use for proper aircraft separation or when Runway 6 is in use. The LOA was executed for national preparedness purposes and due to ILM’s proximity to multiple military bases and practice areas,” according to an email sent to Tracy Sloop, one of the residents in a historic district in Wilmington who has been working to mitigate the noise.

Not only are there exceptions, the FAA told Sloop that their authority doesn’t allow them to tell aircraft where to fly.

“The FAA does not have the authority to prohibit aircraft overflights over any geographic area unless the operation is unsafe, or an aircraft is operated in a manner inconsistent with the FAR,” the email said.

That lack of authority has Sloop questioning why the agreement was signed in the first place.

“It’s kind of ridiculous. What’s the point of having an agreement? If it’s not enforceable, and we can’t, we have no mechanism or no way to report violations of the agreement. And it’s, there’s no way to hold them to it. So it’s very frustrating,” she said.

ILM and the FAA have not yet responded to questions about the agreement, and whether pilots have been adhering to it, however, an ILM representative said they were planning on responding to questions, and this article will be updated when those responses are received.

The agreement from January is embedded below.